Cancer prehabilitation is a whole-person approach to quality cancer care. Along with potential physical gains, patients who participate in cancer prehabilitation (interventions started prior to cancer therapies) may also benefit emotionally and socially. The Case of the Deconditioned Patient focused on the physical benefits Frank experienced as a result of attending prehabilitation before he had surgery for lung cancer. Frank’s psychological gains were no less impressive.
During his prehabilitation evaluation, Frank admitted feelings of despair and uncertainty, but denied depression or suicidal thoughts. When presented with relaxation and coping strategies, he opted to try progressive muscle relaxation (PMR). He discovered the mind-body connection of PMR when he noticed that in addition to feeling relaxed physically, he felt less emotional anxiety and his overall outlook on his health crisis improved. Frank continued to use PMR during his postoperative course. He said he also felt support and camaraderie through meeting other people attending prehabilitation.
Current research on prehabilitative psychological interventions suggests that immune function may be enhanced and somatic side effects reduced as a result of addressing the psychological aspects surrounding a cancer diagnosis at the earliest opportunity.